HyperX Quadcast Review: Cool Mic, Good Price, Hear It In Action

Walt Now fires up his new HyperX Quadcast USB external mic and records a video with it – to review the mic itself. (It’s on Amazon. #ad)

Looking for a good, external USB mic for your home/office? Found a cool one!

I realized I needed an external USB mic to up my YouTube game (and Zoom for that matter,) so I clicked around, studies reviews, and landed on… the HyperX Quadcast.

I know it looks like a bong… or something else… but it’s a mic, all right, and a pretty good one.  It lights up!

Also, I know buying a USB microphone to make YouTube videos, then making the very next video about the mic itself… is pretty meta.

Still:

My verdict is, you get good sound at a good price point, and the red LED instant on-and-off gives it visual pizazz. Recommended for YouTube, Zoom, and gaming.

Not for looking like a bong.

What’s this baby run? Check current price on Amazon. #affiliatelink

Latest from the Blog

Have I Just Been Insulted?

This comic essay is also the intro to my new memoir project, “Walt in Progress.” Here’s how it starts… “Have I just been insulted?” I’ve been asking myself. “No, wait, that was an unintentional insult, I think,” over-thinking. In fact, a series of recent, well, let’s call them “unintentional insults” made me think it might … Continue reading Have I Just Been Insulted?

Mister Sticky™: Master of Invisible Glue

In real life, indecisive 20something Tanner Talbert can’t “stick” to anything. But as Mister Sticky, Master of Invisible Glue, this Heronot can stick to anything! Comic book treatment and script in progress by Walt Jaschek, starring new, creator-owned characters. Mister Sticky TM and © 2021 Walt Now Studios Mister Sticky™ Concept and Characters Concept: A … Continue reading Mister Sticky™: Master of Invisible Glue

Christopher McKarton: Teen Detective (1971)

Amateur “action-thriller” film made by Walt Jaschek and friends as sophomores at Jennings High School introduces Walt’s long-time detective character, played by him. Jennings, Missouri. 1971. A quartet of juvenile delinquents makes a daring escape from a detention center and head for a hide-out of gambling and drugs. When Christopher McKarton, teen detective, learns of … Continue reading Christopher McKarton: Teen Detective (1971)

Review: Revealing new Stan Lee bio tests “True Believers”

With great power comes great responsibility. It also leads to fame and fortune, yes, but also last-act misfortunes, lawsuits, and a boatload of movie cameos. Walt reviews True Believer: The Rise and Fall of Stan Lee.

Listen to an audio version of this review on my podcast episode here, and/or read the review below.

Ep 01: Revealing New Stan Lee Bio Tests "True Believers." The Walt Now Show

Writer/actor Walt Now – a lifelong Stan fan – reviews "True Believer: The Rise and Fall of Stan Lee," the revealing, new bio by Abraham Reissman of the Marvel Comics co-creator. Walt calls it, "A page-turner for the Stan-curious." Walt's review is in the form of ten, key takeaways, written and delivered with a light-hearted but insightful style.

Fascinating new Stan Lee bio by Abraham Reisman is in hardcover, Kindle and audio book on Amazon. Check current prices.

#affiliatelink

Here are my 10 take-aways from this terrific tome, a well-researched bio that tells a lot (maybe too much) about my favorite comic book writer.
  1. It’s a “toupee-and-all” tell-all, and I’m all in.

The book works to be clear eyed, to peer through the mist of myths surrounding Stan to something more layered, more substantial, and ultimately sadder, than previous bios, many of which merely amplified the breezy public persona he crafted. That was “Stan the Man,” which became “Stan the Brand.” But it’s Stan the (lower case) “man” who gives us pause, as we examine his great talent and great personal flaws.

2. The Marvel Method < Rhythm Method.

Turns out the Marvel Method of creating comics – art first, then script – was created by Stan in the 50s, as a way for artists to get paid faster, not having to wait for, you know, scripts. That part is cool; I’m in favor of artists getting paid faster. Where that gets tangled later is in “who-created-what” debates and lawsuits. I’ve followed Marvel for decades. Who created what? The artists who wrote the stories in pencil art: Jack Kirby. Steve Ditko. John Romita. Don Heck. John Buscema. And Stan Lee. After the art was turned in. The process was wonky and fraught with danger, but it worked. In that regard, The Marvel Method is like birth control’s rhythm method, only slightly more reliable.

3. The book’s biggest surprise isn’t.

The hog-the-credit aspect of Stan’s story arc is well known. His books and interviews basically rewrite history so that it seemed like he came up with every character and character name. This comes as a great surprise to absolutely no one. It’s no less exasperating to revisit, though.

4. When he moved on, he moved on.

Stan left Marvel’s day-to-day operations in the late 90s, and seldom followed Marvel’s books thereafter. For example: When the producers of the (now beloved) 1990s animated X-Men series approached Stan for approval on their adaptation of the Wein-and-Cockrum-created characters, they realized he didn’t know who these “new” X-Men were. Can you imagine? I can just hear him saying, “These characters don’t look familiar. I like the guy with the claws, though. What’s his name? Wolverine? I like it. In fact, I created it. Yeah, that’s the ticket.”

5. He had a job description to admire. And a salary to desire.

A 1998 lawsuit revealed that Marvel was paying Stan one million dollars a year for quote “basically doing nothing” unquote. I pass no judgement, because that is, in a nutshell, my exact career goal. He continued to be a cheerleader, of course, at cons and everywhere. True story: at San-Diego Comic-Con in 2010, I was walking down a packed-with-people corridor when I almost ran into Stan, who was with Joan. He wasn’t happy with the dense crowd, or with me in the way. He grunted past me. So my one real-life interaction with Stan involved him being annoyed at my physical presence. I decided not to ask for an autograph

6. His Third Act was filled with the third rate.

Stan was sadly surrounded the last third of his life by lawless con-men and grifters scheming and double-dealing behind his back. And sometimes behind his “Face Front!” Before Stan Lee Media went bankrupt in 2000, stock manipulation took it from $9 a share to pennies a share to into The Negative Zone. Even Reed Richards couldn’t bring it back. Stan said he “didn’t know a thing” about all the stock hi-jinx and bad behavior, but he should have been suspicious when his partners kept greeting him with, “Hail Hydra.” But seriously, all these lawsuits, all these downward spires: was he that bad a judge of character? Or was bad character seeking same?

7. “Striperella:” For completists. Or masochists.

The biggest series success Stan had after Marvel was the Spike TV animated cartoon “Striperella,” voiced by Baywatch’s Pamela Anderson. That’s right, I said his biggest series success. so that sets the bar right there. All Stan came up with was the name, and the pitch to Pamela. When the showrunners, who were to write all 13 episodes were given the name they asked who the character was. And the answer came: “Whatever you guys want to do with her.”  They went with an out-there “adult” humor, not for me. I went to YouTube and watched a few minutes of the character throwing a sledgehammer at a villain’s testicles. He was in pain, I was in pain, it was all about the pain.

8. Celebrity begats celebrity.

Stan sat next to Bill Clinton at a big Hollywood fund-raiser. There’s no record of whether or not they ever shared a cigar.

9. For richer, for poorer, but especially for richer.

Stan’s wife Joan, by all reports, went through his earnings at lightning speed, buying everything in sight at the speed of light. If she was a Marvel character, she could be called … The Slender Spender. (Slender Spender trademark Walt Now Media.) Stan and Joan held lavish cocktail parties at their L.A. home, many recorded on video. I can be glad there’s wasn’t yet Tik Tok. But it was a long and happy marriage, by all accounts, symbiotic at least, real Hank and Janet Pym stuff, without anyone being lost in the Quantum Realm.

10. I’m still a fan.

Stan is one of the top writerly influences in my life. I read his work almost daily as a kid then teen from 1963 to 1973. His voice, style and point of view are all over my work. I can relate to Jim Shooter, who, when asked to write a tribute to Stan, said, “Everything I write is a tribute to Stan.” But my fandom has limits. I find it good, nay, healthy, nay cautionary, to examine and consider the journey of a talent too easily flattered, too reckless in judgement, too quick to pass responsibility.

Ah, responsibility.

I hear it comes with great power.

True Believer: The Rise and Fall of Stan Lee is available on Amazon. Check current price. #ad

Latest from the Blog

“Big Mistake” | Funny TV Campaign for Channel 4 St. Louis (1985)

St. Louis media history rediscovered! Here are KMOX-TV Channel 4’s “Big Mistake” commercials from 1985, alerting viewers to an error in TV Guide magazine. Writer/director: Paul Fey. Guy on camera: me! Yes, that’s me, Walt Jaschek, at a studio in KMOX-TV (St. Louis,) performing on-camera in 1985. I recently found these spots on 3/4″ tape, … Continue reading “Big Mistake” | Funny TV Campaign for Channel 4 St. Louis (1985)

Walt & Don Launch Boastess® Fructose Pies™

We needed a funny product for a funny comic we’re creating. The thought of emulating a certain sweet treat often featured in the comics of our youth? Delicious. Boastess® Fructose Pies™ There’s a sugar crash in every dash! Concept: Walt JaschekPackage design and copy: Don SecreaseStay tuned to see what we do with these! The … Continue reading Walt & Don Launch Boastess® Fructose Pies™

Hero Nots™

Are they heroes? Are they super? NOT. The new, slightly unworthy team from writer Walt Jaschek and Walt Now Films. Hi. Walt here. This is an excerpt from The Hero Nots screenplay I’m writing this Fall. Hope to wrap up the script in 2021, cast and shoot in 2022, post and release to the world … Continue reading Hero Nots™

Shopping for the Apocalypse: How I Learned to Love Buying Emergency Supplies

Walt’s alarm about “double-dipping disasters” spurred his desire to “shop for the apocalypse.” Here are 10 things he bought, and why.

Reviewed in this post: specific, excellent products within categories suggested by Ready.gov for inclusion in an emergency supply kit, with Amazon affiliate links for easy browsing, buying.

Weather radio: RegeMoudal Emergency Solar Hand-Crank Weather Radio for Emergency with AM/FM, LED Flashlight, Reading Lamp and SOS Alarm [check current price]

Light: Solar Powered, Crank Dynamo, Battery Operated Whetstone Lantern With 4 Ways to Power [check current price]

First aid kit: Johnson & Johnson All-Purpose Portable Compact First Aid Kit for Minor Cuts, Scrapes, Sprains & Burns, 140 piece [check current price]

Water: BOTTLED JOY 1 Gallon Water Bottle, BPA Free Large Water Bottle Hydration with Motivational Time Marker Reminder [check current price]

Can opener: Stainless steel can can opener with easy, big turn-knob and ergonomic, anti-slip handles

Food: Amy’s Organic Black Bean Vegetable Soup, Low Fat, Vegan, 14.5-Ounce (Pack of 12)

Masks: Cameleon Cover – Made in USA – Fashion Face Mask Covering Washable Cotton Double Layer – 3 Pack

And more! Keep reading for further list and reviews.

In early March, 2020, when I realized Covid-19 was materializing in the United States with alarming ferocity, I did what every good American does in times of crisis.

I went shopping.

Can you buy your way out of a global pandemic? Of ­course not. But there was a method to my retail madness.

My sudden, energizing goal was to assemble a Basic Disaster Supply Kit, something our household was lacking. I know a virus can’t be tamed with a flashlight, gallons of water, or a weather radio. My motivation to assemble was spurred by this question: what if, as Spring unfolds, we get hit by another type of disaster during the pandemic, concurrent with the pandemic? I call them:

Double dipping disasters.

For example: let’s say Midweste­rn thunderstorms knock our power out for days, as they have done multiple times in recent years. In the past, when the lights blinked out – and stayed out – I would move my home-office-based freelance business to a nearby motel, camp out for days, and keep working at the speed of thought, which was what the job required.

But during the first, dazed days of a lockdown, going to a hotel – or even a friend’s house – is somewhere between ludicrous and impossible. Staying home, staying safe and staying fed becomes the job.

That’s where having a Basic Disaster Supply Kit comes in.

First, I went to ready.gov, the official website of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, and studied its list of recommended supplies. Then:

I started buying.

Here are items from the DHS list, what I bought in response, with Amazon affiliate links (and Amazon’s own pics) to help you do the same.

1. Battery-powered or hand-crank radio and a NOAA weather radio with tone alert

Well, I got both of those things and then some when I purchased the…

RegeMoudal Emergency Solar Hand-Crank Weather Radio for Emergency with AM/FM, LED Flashlight, Reading Lamp and SOS Alarm

and it is now one of my Top Ten Favorite Things I Own. Human civilization and technology came together to build this marvel. Plus, it’s red. The best thing about it is the hand-cranked power, enabling lights, radio – and USB-connected phone charger. The ability to charge a phone without the availability of powered outlets seems fundamental. In a previous St. Louis power outage, phone draining, I walked to a nearby hospital – powered by generators – and sat on the floor of a deserted corridor, phone plugged into wall. In a pandemic, I will not wander into a hospital. I’ll stay away or be carried in.

Dialing into a NOAA weather station was a breeze, pun intended, and the comforting, mechanical voice of the weather A.I. – “showers will be moving out of the area after 6 p.m.” – wonderfully free of bad news. For the moment. I tuned the AM/FM radio to my beloved NPR. Only bad news there, alas. But the multi-setting, LED lights are crazy bright. Let’s shine our way out of this.

2. Flashlight

I thought bigger. I went lantern.

Solar Powered, Crank Dynamo, Battery Operated Whetstone Lantern With 4 Ways to Power

The previously mentioned weather-radio-flashlight provides beams of light. But I want the ability to light a room, or at least a dining room table, for the important business of Scrabble. (We have the deluxe Amazon edition.) This well-reviewed beauty has four sources of power, and I see that I am currently using none of them. So here I go, plugging into AC power, plugging into computer USB port, and hand-cranking. There. That should do it.

There’s a lovely solar panel on top, so why am I storing this in a drawer? Next to my office window it goes. As for luminescence, imagine very bright little disco lights, in three settings. They don’t flash. Except in my imagination. All it needs is a little Donna Summer.

3. First Aid Kit

I scored not one but two of the

Johnson & Johnson All-Purpose Portable Compact First Aid Kit for Minor Cuts, Scrapes, Sprains & Burns, 140 pieces

This well-organized, well-labelled kit is in itself reassuring. It’s grab and go. Plus, it’s red. It’s from Johnson & Johnson, a corporation needing more of our money, I’m sure, but well done is well done. I bought one for each car. That’s where I think a First Aid Kit could be of the most value, I think. On a getaway. During an Earthquake. During a pandemic. Coming soon to a theatre near you.

Includes: bandages, Neosporin, Tylenol, Bengay, cleansing wipes, gauze pads, rolled gauze, antibiotic cream, itch cream, cold pack, two pairs of gloves, and a durable, plastic box to keep items organized. I’m needing all those things right now, and I’ve only been gardening. [Rimshot]

4. Water

I was thirsty to buy the…

BOTTLED JOY 1 Gallon Water Bottle, BPA Free Large Water Bottle Hydration with Motivational Time Marker Reminder

What’s more fundamental than water? We are created by water, I say. Or perhaps we are water’s mechanism for moving itself around. Either way, we’re 60% of it. Give your water some love, and keep it coming throughout the day. Bottled Joy’s spiffy, BPA-free gallon container has a motivational time marker to monitor consumption, 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. (Presumably you need no water after 7 p.m. Too many trips to the bathroom?)

Though I have ordinary containers of tap water in the basement, for use in a bath or toilet in a disaster that might mean no water service (earthquake? yikes,) we’re using Bottled Joy on adventures by car. It could conceivably go in a backpack; haven’t tried that yet. The 1.5’’ wide-mouth opening accommodates ice cubes, the flip-top lid is built for easy filling and refilling, and the handle makes it easy to haul to the socially distant beach. Have some water and get in the water. Feel the water inside you and around you. Be the water.

5. Manual can opener for food.

I bought the…

Stainless steel can can opener with easy, big turn-knob and ergonomic, anti-slip handles

Get a grip. Get this can opener. The description on Amazon says the non-slip handles are “so soft, like your lover’s hand.” *ahem* I wouldn’t go that far. It also says the device allows you to “enjoy the aroma of canned foods.” Yeah, I wouldn’t go that far, either. But let the copywriter have fun and acknowledge this well-done, sturdy opener with a big handle that’s “so soft, so big.”

Here’s why that’s a deal. I’m a senior. I have arthritis in my hands. This device really is easier to turn, and the sharp blade really makes opening even the toughest can “can-tastic.” See? I was a copywriter, too, once. Bonus: built-in bottle opener for long-neck fans. And little handles for hanging up if you have one of those kitchens where you can hang things up. If you do, I admire you.

What cans are we opening? How about cans of…

6. Food

Have to use that cool can opener on something. How about…

Amy’s Organic Black Bean Vegetable Soup, Low Fat, Vegan, 14.5-Ounce (Pack of 12)

We’ve been eating a lot of beans in the pandemic. Red, black, white, cranberry, green; dried, cooked, baked, reheated, repurposed and beloved. There are 2.6 grams of protein in pinto, as in most of the others, and they satisfy hunger on a fundamental level. Randy soaks the dried ones overnight before cooking, reducing the possibility toot-toot-tootsie, goodbye.

Amy’s Black Bean Vegetable is a nice change of pace. Let Amy do the work of getting the bean/spice ratio just right, and enjoy its savory goodness. The 12-pack belongs in a kitchen or basement survival shelter, and why, yes, I am building such a thing. Stay safe, everyone. And eat more beans.

7. Dust mask (to help filter contaminated air)

Duh.

As I mentioned above, when I was first searching ready.gov in March, there was no mention of the coronavirus. But “dust mask” was already on the list of emergency supplies, “to help filter contaminated air.” Good. Little did the site know just how contaminated the air was about to get. We now know masks to be an indispensable part of daily life. My wife sews many for our family, upcycling old t-shirts, but on Amazon, I like…

Cameleon Cover – Made in USA – Fashion Face Mask Covering Washable Cotton Double Layer – 3 Pack

I cannot mask my enthusiasm for this 4-pack of double-layer, doubled-sided, 100% Lycra masks. Oh sure, the white inside is 100% cotton. Oh sure, the 13-inch, earloop-to-earloop length will stretch to 17. Oh sure, they’re breathable, comfortable, and made in the U.S.A.

But what caught my eye and triggered my shopping cart were the colors – Chameleon Cover’s Summer Collection: Neon Yellow, Neon Pink, Neon Orange, Neon Blue. I’m too manly for the pink, but I wear all the other three proudly. My previous black masks were somehow menacing. “I know I look like I want to rob you, but I just want to pay for this juice.” A socially distant summer concert calls for that orange, I think. I socially distant hike along the mountain ridge, the yellow. Listening to the Blues, the blue.

Masks. Our future. Make peace with them. Think colors.

8. Extra batteries

Energizer AA Batteries (48 Count), Double A Max Alkaline Battery

I’m an Energizer loyalist. They work, they last, and the drum-beating bunny is wearing sunglasses. Keep going.

But wait, there’s more.

And as bonus 9th and 10th basic supplies, I am going to recommend two important items not on the DHS Emergency Kit list, but are on mine. And now in my possession. First, you should seriously consider getting a…

9. Camping stove

Coleman Gas Camping Stove | Classic Propane Stove, 2 Burner

I was firing on both burners when the obvious hit me: if we have to stay home due to combination of a pandemic and a power outage lasting days, we’ll need to cook. Or at least heat. The Classic Coleman Propane Stove served my family well when I was a kid – we would camp for weeks at a time, and my parents made three hot meals a day on it. My goals are no longer so epic: I just want to heat a pot of tea on our patio. Or cook some beans.

This reliable, wind-blocking baby can run up to one hour on high on one 16.4 oz. propane cylinder (sold separately.) I have no need to cook anything that long. On the other hand, I might have to use it to fill a hot bath some night, so. (Thinking ahead.) Set-up is easy, learning curve is low. Is a camping stove a bridge too far for disaster thinking? Well, the next time there’s a power outage, and you want a hot cup of tea: see me.

10. Backpack

How to wrap this all up? (Not this article, though there is that.) How to wrap your kit up? How to encapsulate and preserve the emergency supply kit you have so wonderfully assembled? For ease of “we-gotta-get-out-of-here-now” portability, I recommend a backpack. In fact, I recommend this one.

SwissGear 5358 USB ScanSmart Laptop Backpack. Abrasion-Resistant & Travel-Friendly Laptop Backpack Exclusive Bundle with Lock

SwissGear packs have adorned my backs since college. They are wonderfully designed and almost indestructible. The version I currently use for my business ­– back when I went places for my business – has bells and whistles inside the bells and whistles. Putting most of your supplies (minus the stove, natch) in a ridiculously sturdy, lacked backpack like the 5358 means you are guaranteeing its safety. And yours.

“Abrasion resistant,” the Amazon page for it says. That’s absolutely true. I’ve shoved my SwissGear packs under airplane seats and rental car trunks and every nook and cranny imaginable. They bear no wear. Oh, to be a SwissGear pack so I, too, could show no wear.

We’ll be okay, I say. These sturdy supplies help us face the thousand natural shocks the flesh is heir to.

And help us abide their abrasions.

Walt

2020 Update: Additional Emergency Supplies Recommended by the Department of Homeland Security

In April, 2020, the DHS added to its website this list of additional emergency supplies and tips on maintaining your kit. I repeat them here as a public service.

Consider adding the following items to your emergency supply kit based on your individual needs:

  1. Cloth face coverings (for everyone ages 2 and above), soap, hand sanitizer, disinfecting wipes to disinfect surfaces
  2. Prescription medications
  3. Non-prescription medications such as pain relievers, anti-diarrhea medication, antacids or laxatives
  4. Prescription eyeglasses and contact lens solution
  5. Infant formula, bottles, diapers, wipes and diaper rash cream
  6. Pet food and extra water for your pet
  7. Cash or traveler’s checks
  8. Important family documents such as copies of insurance policies, identification and bank account records saved electronically or in a waterproof, portable container
  9. Sleeping bag or warm blanket for each person
  10. Complete change of clothing appropriate for your climate and sturdy shoes
  11. Fire extinguisher
  12. Matches in a waterproof container
  13. Feminine supplies and personal hygiene items
  14. Mess kits, paper cups, plates, paper towels and plastic utensils
  15. Paper and pencil
  16. Books, games, puzzles or other activities for children

Maintaining Your Kit

After assembling your kit remember to maintain it so it’s ready when needed:

  1. Keep canned food in a cool, dry place.
  2. Store boxed food in tightly closed plastic or metal containers.
  3. Replace expired items as needed.
  4. Re-think your needs every year and update your kit as your family’s needs change.

Kit Storage Locations

Since you do not know where you will be when an emergency occurs, prepare supplies for home, work and cars.

  1. Home: Keep this kit in a designated place and have it ready in case you have to leave your home quickly. Make sure all family members know where the kit is kept.
  2. Work: Be prepared to shelter at work for at least 24 hours. Your work kit should include food, water and other necessities like medicines, as well as comfortable walking shoes, stored in a “grab and go” case.
  3. Car: In case you are stranded, keep a kit of emergency supplies in your car.

More at ready.gov

Okay, America. Get ready. To get prepared.

Paperless post about paper: original, proven copywriting tool

The original content creation medium (if you don’t count paint on rock,) paper is the must-have form of pulp.

Julia Cameron , author of the creative journaling guide The Artist’s Way says: “When we write by hand, we connect to ourselves. We may get speed and distance when we type, but we get a truer connection–to ourselves and our deepest thoughts– when we actually put pen to page.” 

What she’s talking about isntt pulp fiction. But it is pulp. Paper is still the very best place to start ideas for copy and content writing. It’s liberating – even productive – to step away from the screen and “scritch.”

Earthwise is affordable – check current price; – and is 100% recycled. The stock as a good “hand feel,” but not so much it seems precious. I’ve weened myself away from those high-end notebooks. I feel compelled to decorate them with greatness. The pressure!

With a deliberately un-fancy sensibility to your paper, you’ll flow with the go. You’ll feel no hesitation in grabbing a pad from the stack and making your mark(s) on the world.

Earthwise Ampad 100% Recycled Perforated Ruled 50-Sheet 8 1/2 x 11 ¾-Inch White Pads 12-Pack

And for that you also need:

Pens.

I love Sharpees. (Check current price.)

Call me a Sharpie collector. Or perhaps a Sharpie loser: I tend to lose more than I gain – I think I must leave a Sharpie everywhere I go (you’re welcome)  – and thus I replenish my supplies frequently. The black fine-points are my every day, all-day tools: I love the precision of the line, the depth of that black color, and even the sound of the “scritch-scritch” on the paper.

Oh, the sad feeling when I am out of Sharpies and must use a mundane ballpoint to ideate. Somehow, the logo designs, the name ideas, the lists, the character sketches, the flow charts just aren’t as… sharpie.

And then there is the highly saturated color set: so great for accents, adornments, fheading titles, and more robust sketches and doodles. Day or night, home or away, Sharpies are never dull. They are the Walt Now Creative Ideation pens of choice.

And choice they are.

Sharpie Permanent Markers, Fine Point, Black, 24-Count

Sharpie Color Burst Permanent Markers, Fine Point, Assorted Colors, 24 Count

13-inch MacBook Air review: best laptop for writers on the go, go, go

Here’s Walt talking about his 13-inch MacBook Airs – on a MacBook Air

The lightweight heavyweight of laptops, the MacBook Air is beloved – except by battery fans.

By Walt Jaschek

Bulletin: your creative content is only as good as your content creation tools. And your brain, but that’s another story. In this post, I highly recommend Apple’s MacBook Air laptop. Five stars for content creation, unless you need battery life, then, for serious, buy something else. Here’s my review, supported by affiliate links.

Apple’s MacBook Air [check current price] is so colossally cool for content creation, I use two at once. Really. I was such a heavy user of my first one, an 11.6-inch model purchased in 2014 and still killing it, the “a” key now looks like a font from an alien dimension. When I was offered a used 13-inch, as an inheritance from an elderly family member, I thought I was walking on MacBook Air.

Why do I love my twin MacBook Air laptops?

Check current price of MacBook Air on Amazon.

1.    They’re shiny. Like robots in a mirror wearing bling. I just like to look at them.

2.    They’re powerful. Mine have mega-memory (newer ones even more) and 1.4 GHz Intel Core i5 processors. Gigantic iMovie files into convert into mp4s in a blink; your YouTube channel need not wait. Every task in Photoshop happens at the speed of thought: yes, you should have a tighter crop on your headshot. De-saturate it while you’re at it.

3.    They’re thin. “Have-you-been-working-out?” thin. Look how thin.

4.    They’re light. At about 3 pounds each, I can put both into my backpack and zip out the door without straining any upper body muscles.

5.    The beautiful retina display. It seers, well, the retina.

6.    They’re trouble free (but then, trouble is always free.) I’ve had both since 2014, and have had 0 virus or performance incidents. I think the Apple store misses me.

7.    They make your fingers feel good. Great keyboard response and large trackpad action to… to… excuse me, I have to kiss my fingers now.

8.    Flawless, no-dropout videos conferences while executing all of the above. It’s the laptop for multi-taskers. Or those who aspire to be.

Why do I have two of them?

“Check out” my two Macbook Airs at my local library, AKA content creation heaven.

Hey, why not?

I can have two screens open at once, which reduces the amount of tabs I have open on either one of them. It also suits my creative ADHD: when I look away from one screen to avoid thinking too hard (“brain hurts”,) my eyes and hands fall on the other keyboard, and keep working away on something else.

And, yes, I assign different types of projects to each MacBook Air, by category. The slightly bigger screen 13-inch is better for using InDesign, Photoshop and Comiclife. The slightly smaller 11-inch where I pound out copy in Word: scripts, screenplays, stories, posts and exasperated tweets. Correspondingly, it’s also the one with the most social tabs open.

Is there a “con” to the MacBook Air?

Yes, and it’s a big one:

Battery life.

It’s plain terrible. Awful. Neither of my MacBook Airs can hold a charge.. If I dare try to use without power cord, I’ve got about 15 minutes to live, sometimes less. In my particular creative venues, from home office to library to coffee shop to Whole Foods, I am never far from a wall outlet, so concern over battery life has, like Elvis, left the building. BUT BUT BUT…

If you are, say, a frequent flier, and need a laptop that works reliably on airplanes, forget the MacBook Air. Wipe it from your memory, like Men in Black. In fact, in my experience, battery fans, forget Apple laptops altogether. Go another route. Laptop Mag says the best three laptops for battery life are the Dell Latitude 7400, the HP Spectre x360, and the Dell Latitude 7400. I believe them. On the charged issue of charge, I’m envious.

On the whole, though, if battery life isn’t in your top 5 content creation criteria – as it is not in mine – you will love the Macbook Air. Business Insider agrees: this article is headlined, “After one year with Apple’s latest MacBook Air, I remain convinced it’s worth the high price tag.”

Price tag? Though I’m a freelancer on a budget, and live frugally, I can’t imagine life without these babies. Sometimes day-in, day-out value is worth that first investment.

Your creative content deserves it.

As do your fingers.

Read more reviews of the 13-inch MacBook Air on Amazon.

Walt Jaschek is a content creator and a fan of cool content. He creates a lot of it.

P.S. What did I use to take the photos you see in this post? A phone with an incredible camera: The iPhone 7.

But that’s a review for another day.

“Spirits of Jupiter” AKA “Planet Gone Mad” (1984) Action Movie

Click for a few scenes from “Planet Gone Mad” AKA “Spirits of Jupiter”

Here’s a reprint of an early newspaper review of “Spirits of Jupiter,” also known as “Planet Gone Mad;” a copy of the print ad for the movie; and a clip of me getting killed by crazed minors.

See me get killed by crazed miners in Colorado! In 1984, I appeared as the doomed nebbish Harold Pilgrain in the 1984 indy action movie “Planet Gone Mad,” also known by its original title, “Spirits of Jupiter.” Filmed in and around Canon City, Colorado, the movie was directed by Russell S. Kern, with cinematography by Steve Flanigan. Hollywood stuntman Rex Cutter played the film’s hero, Big Jim Drill. I had a few, fun scenes with Rex, his airplane, and the crazy miners who are compelled to kill. I did my own stunts, including jumping out of that moving airplane, as you will see. Here are the full IMDB credits.

And now, that review.

Clip of the original newspaper review of “Spirits of Jupiter,” AKA “Planet Gone Mad”

“Jupiter” Filled With Violence

Review from the Colorado Springs Gazette Telegraph, Friday, March 2, 1984

By Linda D. Smith
GT Features Writer

CANON CITY – The residents of this city turned our Thursday night for the premiere of “Spirits of Jupiter,” a film starring many of their friends and neighbors.

Rocky Mountain Studios and Producers Group Ltd., a Colorado Springs production company, filmed the movie in Canon City and surrounding Fremont County last year, relying on the local residents for talent and local scenery for backdrops.

Written and directed by Russell S. Kern of Colorado Springs, “The Spirits of Jupiter” takes the predictions of 16th century philosopher Nostradamas and applies them to 1984. In particular, Kern has taken the idea if the planets Jupiter and Saturn were to align, the result would be a gravitational pull that would wreak havoc on the people of Earth.

The story line has given the film makers a great deal of latitude in creating a fill full of violence.

In one scene after another, viewers see a bloody headless corpse, a man’s eyeball ripped from the socket by a crazed dog, and friends turning against neighbors with guns, knives and meat cleavers.

The story follows mine owner Big Jim Drill, played by Rex Cutter, who is spared the ravages of the gravitational pull. His first interest is in keeping his mine open, until things get so out of hands, he becomes more concerned about the survival of his family. The movie is filled with some very colorful and talented characters, including a modern-day Nostradamas, played by Richard Luna, Drill’s airplane mechanic, portrayed by Cliff Willis, and the fidgety mine supervisor, played by Walter Jaschek.

The roles of Dril’s son and daughter and filled by two Colorado Springs residents. Handsome Chopper Burnet, a drama student at Colorado College, portrays Drill’s son Robert with a great deal of finesse. Carol Engel, a regular performer at the Iron Springs Chateau, plays Jennifer Drill.

And when it comes to villains, James Aerni’s portrayal of police chief Julius Switcher rivals any melodrama house in the area. In the movie, when Switcher first succumbs to the gravitational pull, he gets the most sinister gleam in his eye when he takes off his boot and begins playing a game of Russian roulette with his toes.

Steven R. Flanigan of Colorado Springs, who is the director photography, has made tremendous use of the Canon City area in filming “Spirits of Jupiter.” The action sequences are well done and use a variety of vehicles, from cars and motorcycles to airplanes and helicopters. But Flanigan is best in the aerial sequences, capturing the beautiful countryside on film. Thursday night’s audience at the Skyline Theatre in Canon City seemd to relish seeing themselves and their friends on the big screen.

Colorado Springs residents will get to see and critique the film at its only performance here, at 4:30 p.m. March 9 at the Cooper Theatre. Tickets are $4 in advance from Budget Tapes and Records, Independent Records, big Apple Tapes and Records, or at the door.

Bonus: “Spirits of Jupiter” newspaper ad and preview invite

A photocopy of the original newspaper ad for “The Spirits of Jupiter”
My invitation to the “Spirits of Jupiter” Producer Sneak Preview

Scott Pilgrim Movie Review: Scott Pilgrim Versus the Walt

FOR THE first five minutes of Scott Pilgrim Versus the World, I  thought: “I am waaaay too old for this movie.“ (That’s “waaaay” with 4 “a”s.)

My suspicion increased when an older couple walked out of the theatre, seemingly baffled. “I feel you,” I thought.

The movie’s early minutes are aggressively Quirky with a capital Qu. Not the naturalistic, observational quirkiness of, say, Juno, but rather a highly self-conscious Quirky – a rapidly cut mash-up of anime, arcade games, sitcoms, and of course the beloved source material, Brian O’Malley’s deceptively simple, black-and-white comics.

You’d think that would be right up my alley! Me, too. After five more minutes, I started to “get it,” but it was a slog to work up attraction for the antics of these slacker 20somethings.  They seemed to be photocopies of characters, hitting beats in a script – a Quirky script! – without really touching hearts or nerves.

But, wait! There is hope for me. I did NOT follow my fellow old fogies out the door, and not just because, like the senior citizen I almost am, I didn’t want to waste $10.

Soon the unique lure of the Pilgrim-verse sucked me in, and by the end of the movie I was charmed, and sure I had seem something new in execution but classic in spirit. This is romantic comedy, after all, with its tropes and satisfactions, wrapped in the magic realism of fables and the frenetic, split-screen battles of manga.

In other words, it IS up my alley.

The turn for me was the introduction of Ramona Flowers (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), blue-haired object of Scott’s affection and the bearer of gravitas from another movie altogether. Ramona has a look that’s at once doe-eyed and hard, betraying an existential sadness at unleashing her League of Seven Evil Exes on Scott. Her lingering question: Will Scott her be her 8th?

That decision falls to S.P. (Michael Cera, pitch perfect EveryGeek.)  Though I’d be happier if he’d been given funnier lines early on – why would Ramona fall for this guy, unless niceness was her only criteria for picking a BF? – I can’t fault, and in fact applaud, Cera’s winning amalgam of Juno’s Paulie Bleeker and Superbad’s Evan. (Trivia: Superbad’s Evan had no last name.)

The concept of Everygeek is (like the movie’s studio) Universal. It is Scott Pilgrim versus the world, every day. In the movie, he faces with bravado those Evil Exes, metaphor for the minefield we all navigate in relationships, brought to life by director Edgar Wright in dizzying flights of CGI fantasy.

The Exes – among them, Chris Evans (Human Torch, Captain America)  and Jason Schwartzman (“Rushmore”) – are fantastic. But my favorite is Brandon Routh (“Superman Returns”) pulverizing Scott with his “Vegan-diet-generated powers.” As Routh risks losing those powers by violating that diet, this vegetarian was LOLing and submerged in the Pilgrim-verse at last.

I’m waaaay old. That we know. But I ended up loving Scott Pilgrim, and remember enough of love, jealousy, and courtship choreographies to relate. I’m always enough of a fanboy to enjoy the movie’s comic-inspired look. In fact, its very comic-ness makes me suddenly want to channel Stan Lee, who might have summed up the movie’s appeal like this:

“There’s a little bit of Scott in us all, Pilgrim!”

Top: Michael Cera, Mary Elizabeth Winstead. Pic courtesy Universal Studios. 

Walt Jaschek recommends the Scott Pilgrim Blu-Ray Collectors’ Edition.